On April 17th, I will be running the Boston Marathon on behalf of Tutoring Plus, in memory of my best friend Vanessa Marcotte.
Why I am running
As many of you know, Vanessa was tragically killed this past August. I know the best way to honor her is to live my life to the fullest; doing all of the things she wanted to do. Vanessa often asked if we could run the marathon together some day. I know that this year, she will be with me every step of the way. I am so honored to run on behalf of an organization she cared so deeply about.
Why I support Tutoring Plus
In 2013, Vanessa and I were roommates when she started volunteering at Tutoring Plus, a grassroots, community-based organization focused on closing the opportunity gap of Cambridge youth through academic, personal, and social enrichment. As 24 year olds trying to figure out our “purpose” in the world, I don't think this experience could have come at a better time. Each Wednesday night, I looked forward to hearing about the progress she was making with her mentee, a 15 year-old high school student. When Vanessa got home from tutoring, I was usually hunched over my laptop in the living room, unnecessarily stressed. Something about the way her face glowed as she recounted the stories of the night made me feel at ease. At first her stories were filled with details of the challenges of tutoring, but as the weeks progressed, they turned more towards the trusting relationship unfolding between her and her mentee. Even after Vanessa moved to NYC to chase her Google dreams, her and her mentee remained in touch. Just last Christmas, Vanessa told me how proud she was to hear that her mentee had been accepted to college. Vanessa's involvement with Tutoring Plus inspired her own personal growth and gave her perspective about the things that mattered most in life.
What your donations support
All of Tutoring Plus's programs are free of charge. By making a donation you will support:
- the purchase of supplies, materials, and snacks for programs
- recruitment, training, and support of 200+ volunteers
- strengthening and evaluating the quality of their programs
- professional development for staff
My personal story
It's difficult to put into words how much Vanessa meant to me. Best friends since 4th grade, we were with each other through it all. We'd always say that we were not best friends, but soul mates. I am fortunate for so many memories, and find comfort in all of them. For this story, I am going to rewind just a few years, to 2013.
That year, Vanessa and I grew closer in a new way – over our common passion for running. On our runs, she would fill me in on her takeaways from the latest inspirational podcast or book she was reading. She told me something that has always stuck with me: there are so many aspects in life that you cannot control, but everyone is able to control the mood they wake up in the morning. Each new day is a chance to be born again. To live out this philosophy, we committed to “reclaiming” our mornings and supporting each other through early morning workouts. Some of my best memories were the conversations we shared over 5:30AM runs in the middle of the winter in Boston. I would give anything to have those mornings back – when the rest of the city was asleep, and it was just me and my best friend.
It's hard to imagine the future without Vanessa in it. When I go to text her something she would think is hilarious, when I walk by one of her favorite spots in the city, or when I hear one of our favorite songs from childhood, reality sets in and I feel the void that will always exist. Although I will never understand why she was taken this way, when I think of Vanessa, I think about light. In her 27 years here, she made the world, and my world, a better place. She taught me so much – and still does each day. Most importantly, she taught me to cherish each day, live in the present, reflect on gratitude often, and never be too busy for what matters most.
How you can support me in honoring Vanessa
Please consider donating if you are able to and sharing with any of your networks to spread the word! Also take a look at Tutroing Plus's website to learn more about the cause, and volunteer opportunities.
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR SUPPORT!